Today, please welcome my new guest writer, who’ll be running her column in these weekly posts for as long as is necessary. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Remilia Scarlet’s Chopping Block!
And now, shows I still like!
Fate/Zero (ep 3): I’ve learned something important about “plot” this year: simply, that it can be more conducive to my enjoyment of a show than I used to give it credit for. I’m capable of enjoying a show with “no plot” so long as it has other appealing traits, and I’m equally capable of getting bored with a show that has a lot of plot if it doesn’t deliver on other fronts. However, that’s not to say that I can’t possibly find the plot of a show to be its most interesting aspect, as I’ve learned this year.
My favorite shows of 2011 are Madoka, Steins;Gate, and Fate/Zero. All three of these series have very strong plots. In the case of Madoka, I loved the plot and was indifferent towards the characters—I thought that because of this, I wouldn’t find myself caring about the show much in the long run. This, however, has proven untrue, as the plot genuinely grabs me to a point where I can come back just for it. Steins;Gate has a strong plot, but stronger characters. Madoka is also backed by visual flair. Fate/Zero so far, while visually appealing and presenting characters who are interesting, is mostly awesome to me because awesome things happen in the story.
I was awed by Sakura being raped by bugs in the first episode, and by the impending sense of dread that the events depicted created. I was awed by the child being slaughtered by Cthulhu in episode two, and by Assassin being sent to die. Nothing in the third episode awed me quite to that extent, but I was nonetheless awed by the appearance of an entire troupe of Assassins, and by Rider’s study of the present world in such a way that genuinely makes it seem as though he plans to utilize this knowledge to win the grail war/conquer the world.
Fate/Zero’s huge cast makes it difficult to get attached to any characters at this point, especially because I haven’t seen Fate/Stay Night, so I’m not really connected to Saber nor Tohsaka Rin like others might be. That I’m this in love with the show anyway is something new to me.
Ben-to (ep 2): Sadly, the art and animation were shaky in this episode, but solid directing and awesome Iwasaki Taku music made up for it, if the story itself wasn’t enough. Episode two introduces a number of concepts like the “storm,” of rugby players, the “boar,” a fat bitch with no respect, and the “gods of discount”—it’s very “shounen fight anime,” which is a good thing, because making a shounen fight anime about mauling your classmates for boxed lunches is exactly why this show is great. There’s a lot of—I daresay—epic dialog about honor and fighting spirit that seriously gave me chills. Couldn’t stop smiling!
Voice acting in this show deserves special note. Ise Mariya is hot, cute, and mysterious as the Ice Witch. I wish I knew her roles better, but I think this is a pretty unexpected performance from her. Episode two introduced The Wizard, whom I recognized as Miyano Mamoru in a single word. I love that he’s here and so is ever-delicious Yuuki Aoi, his co-star in Pokemon Best Wishes. I want to catch up on Pokemon now and make sure I’m not missing potential seiyuu cross-over jokes lol. Kayano Ai is shocking as Shiraume Ume, a hot lesbian psycho stalker who sounds nothing like any of Kayano Ai’s roles to date afaik (she started only this year, but it’s already a pretty hefty list). Shimono Hiro is pretty enjoyable Satou, too. I’m looking forward to Katou Emiri, but even moreso to Taketatsu Ayana playing what appears to be Merry Nightmare.
Mashiro-iro Symphony (ep 3): I think Mashiro-iro has found its rhythm now, and I’m enjoying it. Strangely, it doesn’t feel like a visual novel adaption, but more like a semi-iyashikei slice-of-life. I only just noticed that the ED is by Marble and has the pastel color scheme of Mebae Drive, which made me realize that the pacing in this show is kind of like Hidamari Sketch. I think that’s a big part of why I enjoy it—because the pacing holds up as long as random stupid shit isn’t happening, and this episode had none of it.
Shingo deals with Sena like a fucking champ. I love that the story doesn’t accept Sena’s negative attitude—it’s like, “we need to make this girl change.” This proactive, disapproving response to a character’s bad personality is refreshing, and never does it come across as Shana-like chauvinism. Mashiro-iro manages its gender politics very well, feeling like the girls can be good and strong people, but without being all “girl power!” about it. I think it has a solid rhythm in this regard.
Watching this episode, I kept an eagle eye on the character art so that I could say with confidence that it’s as consistent as I think it is. Indeed, there were a small handful of off-model moments, but none jarring and not nearly as many as almost everything short of Kyoto Animation. I love that Manglobe isn’t resting on their laurels just because they’re doing a highly unoriginal work—instead, they’re polishing it well. Why couldn’t Deadman Wonderland have been this good?
Working’!! (ep 3): I still like this season better than the first one, but not for the same reasons as last week. The distinctly new directing style is less evident, and episode two feels more like standard Working fare. However, I still like it because it continues to focus on characters who weren’t as present in the first season, who’re more exciting than the characters that were. Here, it’s Takanashi’s novelist sister, who is rather lukewarm altogether, but I can’t help but enjoy her. She’s cute and older, and she inspires me in the way that I think I should write more like she does (that is to say, like it’s actually my job).
I find Takanashi’s younger sister to be ridiculously ugly and mostly boring, but her scenes with Poplar and Yamada in this episode were great because she actually made them happy. Most people just dog on them all day long, so it’s nice to see someone who genuinely tells them exactly what they want to hear—and has the savviness to have done so on purpose.
Un-Go (ep 2): This show’s weakness to me is simply being a mystery show—a genre I’ve never cared for even when the shows give me a bunch of other things to like, such as with Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. Mysteries don’t interest me, and in Un-Go, this is stacked on by my having a hard time following the mystery until it’s already being solved (possibly because I just don’t give a shit).
There were plenty of other good things about this episode, though, and Vuc has excitedly covered them already better than I care to. On the not-plot side, the show is well put-together, particularly shining when the shit hits the fan. But in this episode, the best scene was the beginning, which was exquisitely written and almost cinematic in feeling. That scene alone is worth watching more of the show. Also, Toyosaki Aki is fucking scary!
Guilty Crown (ep 2): Pictured: the characters worth a shit. I’ve got a post about this episode on We Remember Love—it’s more about the similarities to other shows because there’s nothing more interesting to say right now. This show is boring, which shouldn’t be true at all because look at the fucking show! Listen to it! It’s nothing but theoretical excitement!
Here’s a complaint I never thought I’d make: the backgrounds are too detailed. There’s too much to try and take in for every shot, and the shots move quickly. Both episodes left me with a headache, which is the *only* reason, I think, that I didn’t find them completely awesome. This show does more than enough that I like—it’s just taxing to watch. The real solution to this would be to watch the episodes again, making everything a little easier to grasp. Or, perhaps even better, watch it without subtitles so that my eyes aren’t distracted. The show’s gonna need to make me care about it a little more before I go to all that trouble for it, though.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (ep 2): Newtype loli is, hands down, the cutest character on TV right now. It’s not every day you get a show with two insanely cute lolis—I hope my body can take it. The bearded dude is pretty cool, too. Besides that I can’t get into the show much yet, but I’m hoping it slows down and characterizes some lolis soon.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (ep 3): Finally, a loli appears! She doesn’t get to do much, but OMG she’s voiced by Hanazawa Kana sounding about as adorable as humanly possible. Looking forward to more of her. Then we have Sena, whom I still like as a character, but whose design does nothing for me. Two major questions need be asked of this episode: 1. who thought it was a good idea to have a pool episode in a harem show with only one girl?, and 2. if you’re going to do a pool episode, shouldn’t you put your best effort into making the character art stand out in that episode? There were only a handful of decent shots in the entire pool scene.
If nothing else, this show is getting better, but I hated the opening scene—not only because it was stupid and unfunny, but because the lead character was such a flake about it. He voiced some meek objections to the situation and did nothing to stop it. If it weren’t for the scene later where he actually stands up to Sena, I’d think he had no balls. And that scene wasn’t great either.
What I did find interesting, though, was the revelation that Yozora was Hasegawa’s childhood friend whom the latter had thought was a boy. This is interesting even though it doesn’t seem to coincide with what we’ve seen and heard from Yozora so far, considering that she apparently is aware of who Hasegawa is. But there must be more to unravel. That, the loli, and how great Itou Kanae is as Sena keep me interested in seeing more.
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! (ep 3): A more appropriate screenshot would’ve been… well, inappropriate. Majikoi is borderline porn, especially with this episode focusing entirely on highly sexual love comedy, with no action whatsoever. These aren’t complaints—I love this kind of fanservice, and the comedy is actually good. Especially in the second half, I was getting some strong Gintama vibes. The seiyuu seem to be having a lot of fun.
The episode wasn’t without its problems, though, particularly that Yamato’s reasoning for not wanting to bone Miyako is completely retarded, and even though it was seemingly resolved, this won’t effect their relationship. I think the anime staff tried to brush this under the rug by having Yamato play Touhou through his entire explanation, which I found more attention-grabbing than the dialog, but they can’t change the fact that it’s retarded!
Last Exile ~Fam, the Silver Wing~ (ep 1): I don’t get the point of this show. I liked the original Last Exile, albeit a lot less than most people seem to, primarily because it’s a very good-looking show. A series in the visual tradition of Last Exile would be Sora no Woto—Fam, the Silver Wing bears a much stronger resemblance to Gonzo’s more recent Strike Witches than it does to Last Exile, and I mean that in a bad way even though I love Strike Witches. Here, we’re mainly looking at plain blue sky, plain blue sea, big CG flying objects, and, unlike Strike Witches, a lot of smoke.
Strike Witches is still good to look at because it has good character designs, and no one is ever wearing pants. Jokes aside over Fam being in her underwear at the start of the episode, the character art in this series is less than great. I don’t blame the designs because I like Range Murata and all, but the art just… isn’t very good.
If it doesn’t share the biggest strength of Last Exile, then what does it have? At least the soundtrack is equally kickin’, though that doesn’t mean much if it’s not set to something cool. At first, I thought maybe this show really was going to be like Sora no Woto, focusing more on characters and their antics, but such wasn’t the case. We barely learn anything about Fam, her friends, or even Dio, except that they’re all pretty great pilots, and that Fam is a funny girl. But even here, with the pilot thing, it doesn’t feel right because the action scenes are completely uninteresting and horribly directed. None of this bodes well, and I don’t feel like the odds are with me watching this show to the end.
Shows I’m Putting On-Hold (without watching this week’s ep)
Chihayafuru, Hunter X Hunter, and Phi Brain: This may seem like a perplexing decision because I’ve ranked these shows pretty well the last two weeks. The thing is, I quickly noticed a trend with these shows being the ones that I push to the end of the week because I don’t feel like watching them. They’re shows that’re easier for me to marathon-view because they’re good shows that I can’t bring myself to care deeply for, either because they’re out of my genre or contain few of my general interests. Chihayafuru would be way easier to watch in a marathon where I can take in the whole of the drama at once. Hunter X Hunter I’d rather marathon with my friend who’s big into the franchise. Phi Brain, I honestly can’t say if I’ll end up picking back up—it will depend on boredom and what I hear about the show. Putting these on hold also helps to thin down my weekly viewing, which I like.
Shows I’m Dropping (without watching this week’s ep)
Mirai Nikki: I may as well have dropped this after the first ep. I already know what I’m getting and I don’t care for it.
That’s it for week three! Thanks to idiffer for the title of this week’s post. If you have ideas for what NEET should stand for in the coming weeks, please submit them in the comments!